1.23.2006

On the 'Bubble'

The Chicago Sun Times has an interesting article about Steven Soderbergh's "Bubble." As the film's Jan. 27 release nears, the mainstream media is starting to wake up to this odd little film and its interesting release plans. As Creativille readers know, "Bubble" is Soderbergh's first film for HDNet Films, a venture that seeks to collapse the release window for movies by offering them in theaters, on DVD and on television at the same time. Soderbergh signed a six-picture deal with HDNet (owned by Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner) to make films like this to be distributed in this flattened fashion.

The film will come out on TV and theaters on Jan. 27, and the DVD release will follow on Jan. 31 (the difference being between traditional Friday openings in theaters and Tuesday availabilities for DVDs). According to the Sun-Times article, "The goal is to put the film on as many screens as possible, including home TVs, to capitalize on viewers who do not or cannot go to theaters. It is estimated that only 10 percent of the U.S. population consistently attends movies."

As a new parent who isn't going to make it to a theater for several months (and who doesn't lament that fact given the dirty, noisy and downright annoying experience moviegoing has become), I welcome the move. It will mean changes for theaters, just as any technological advance means changes for the affected industry. But those changes will help, not hurt the industry. People already are staying away because they can see a film in 4 to 6 months at home. This only speeds up the process. Theater owners need to make theirs the desirable choice be enhancing the experience. A big screen with surround sound isn't all that special any more. Good service, clean amenities and an offering of things one can't get at home (food, beverages, live entertainment, shorts before the film, etc.) would set the theater-going experience apart and make it a worthy alternative again. Once again, choice is the answer.

More about the film can be found at its website, which offers interviews with Soderbergh about the film and its distribution schedule.

UPDATE: Boing Boing points to a response to all this from Mark Cuban's blog, where he responds to comments from John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theater Owners: "Guess what John, I can whip up a mean steak, but I still like to go to restaurants. Because I enjoy it. I enjoy getting out of the house with family, friends, who ever."

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